Current Developments

Gender Inclusive Trade and the Limits of Liberal Feminism

The 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO saw the coming together of 121 WTO members to support the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment (hereinafter ‘Gender Declaration’). Members went on to endorse a liberal feminist strategy to promote gender equality within the international trading system. Pursuant to the Gender Declaration, the WTO has convened a series of conferences and workshops to deliberate upon ways to promote women’s participation in …

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Customary International LawSymposium

Religious Freedom and Customary International Law

The struggle for religious freedom is the oldest of all movements for international human rights. Nonetheless, religious freedom remains the most problematic of all human rights. Despite treaty protections for religious rights stretching from the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) to the European Convention on Human Rights (1950) and beyond, the role of customary international law remains considerable. For example, how does one define such rights as the freedom to establish …

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Customary International LawSymposium

The principle of responsibility-sharing in refugee protection

An emerging norm of customary international law

In December 2018, the Global Compact on Refugees was adopted. Especially over the last year, its drafting and negotiations could appear in odd contrast to the surrounding world, in which conditions for seeking asylum continued to harshen. Is the compact a step towards countering these conditions, or mere window-dressing without much effect on refugees’ rights? The compact is non-binding and one widely shared view is that all will depend on …

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BofaxeCurrent Developments

Trading Blows

On the military tensions between India and Pakistan

On Wednesday, February 27th 2019 Pakistan reportedly shot down two Indian warplanes, after India conducted airstrikes on the Pakistani side of the disputed border region of Kashmir against training camps of the Jaish-e Mohammed group which claims responsibility for a terror attack against Indian soldiers earlier in February. India confirmed the loss of one plane and claims to have shot down a Pakistani warplane as a response itself. The Kashmir region …

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BofaxeVölkerrechtsblog

New Collaboration between Völkerrechtsblog and Ruhr University Bochum’s Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV)

From 2019 onwards, Völkerrechtsblog is regularly publishing Bofaxe: academic snapshots of up-to-the minute news in international law as produced by international law researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum’s Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) and affiliated scholars. The series of the Bofaxe was originally started in 1988 when Professor Knut Ipsen founded the IFHV in Bochum. On one page, Bofaxe assess current legal and political events and contextualize …

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Event

Provoking the Single Story

A Report of the MPIL/JHIL-Conference “Politics and the Histories of International Law”

Telling a history of international law is every time a mode of echoing oneself in the present. The danger of a single storyand its oppressive force to identities and peoples that are misrepresented or not represented in it have been stressed in recent years by many scholars, but not only them. It was perhaps most remarkably and famously spelled out by the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in a TED …

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Current Developments

Sind die USA noch an den INF-Vertrag gebunden?

Der Vertrag über die Beseitigung nuklearer Mittelstreckensysteme (sog. INF-Vertrag, Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) wurde noch während des Kalten Krieges zwischen den USA und der damaligen Sowjetunion geschlossen und ist seit dem 1. Juni 1988 in Kraft. Er verbietet den USA und seit dem Zerfall der UdSSR der Russischen Föderation als deren Fortsetzungsstaat sowie gegenwärtig noch den früheren Sowjetrepubliken Kasachstan, Ukraine und Weißrussland den Bau und den Besitz landgestützter, atomar …

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Current Developments

Imperialism, International Law and the Chagos Islands

Reflections on Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago

The Chagos tragedy (the Advisory Opinion of the ICJ can be found here) represents a story that in one way or the other is fundamentally a story of international law and its complicity in subjugating, oppressing and dominating an ‘inferior’ people. It shows that the erstwhile colonial world order is neither really ‘past’ nor that modern international law, as it is often claimed, is necessarily a harbinger for emancipation and …

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Customary International LawSymposium

Corporate liability under customary international law

Is the tail wagging the dog?

Human rights and business issues are far more complex than is often considered in most scholarly writings on the topic. The following is an example of the complexity, taken from the case of Araya v Nevsun Resources 2017 BCCA 401, which is currently winding its way through the Canadian courts. The company is alleged to have aided and abetted serious human rights abuses, primarily conducted by the government of Eritrea. …

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Customary International LawSymposium

Why Customary International Law Matters in Protecting Human Rights

Does customary international law really matter in protecting human rights, and if so how? This was the theme of a panel at International Law Weekend in New York on October 20, 2018. International Law Weekend is an annual conference organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association. The panel was sponsored by the American Branch’s Committee on the Formation of Customary International Law, of which I serve as chair. …

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Journal Cooperation

Who is calling the shots?

A comment on Amvane’s “UN peacekeeping and the developing world”

In his thought-provoking essay on UN peacekeeping and the developing world Gabriel Amvane sheds light on the mismatch between the fact that while peacekeeping operations are mainly carried out in and by states from the global South, it is the casualty-averse countries from the global North that fund these operations and thus call the shots in decision-making about where to deploy, with what mandate, and for how long. This results in …

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Book Review

Hard times for voices from the Global South

Decolonization and the validity of existing treaties

For a long time, international legal scholars did not devote much attention to protagonists from the Global South as relevant actors in the field. The focus of the discipline – at least in continental Europe – was on contributing to the systematization of the international legal order. The few studies on particular national or regional approaches to international law largely focused on the perspectives of the Soviet and US American …

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Interview

‘Understanding our colonial past is a prerequisite to understanding the current migration situation’

An interview with Wolfgang Kaleck

Wolfgang Kaleck is the founder and General Secretary of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a legal human rights organisation based in Berlin, Germany, dedicated to hold torturers and war criminals as well as transnational corporations accountable. In his latest book, ‘Law versus Power: Our global fight for human rights’, he underscores the notion that standards of human rights can prevail when people are willing to struggle …

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Discussion

Recognizing violent encounters in North East India as internal armed conflict – the way forward to curb human rights violations?

The Non-State Armed Groups in North East India have been consistently engaged in hostilities with the Indian armed forces, resulting in a myriad of human rights violations by both sides. In a span of 15 years (2000 to 2015), North East India has witnessed over twelve thousand casualties out of which more than five thousand are civilians. Though the number of casualties has been on a decline since 2015, human …

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DiscussionResponse

Of BITs and pieces, resistance and simplification

It has been a pleasure to read to what now amounts to an exchange of views between Prof. Ranjan and Kanad Bagchi on some of the critical issues surrounding the foundations and functioning of international investment law (IIL), especially in relation to ‘Third World’ countries. Being deeply interested in the topic, and a member of the KFG ‘International Rule of Law – Rise or Decline?’ that has been mentioned by …

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Current Developments

A new object in the sky

Space law points the telescope to its relationship with cyber law

While cyber activities have been growing rapidly since the 1970’s, the law was not able to catch up with this development immediately. However, over the years, law-making efforts at the international level have resulted in the enactment of international conventions regarding cybercrime such as the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime, or the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual …

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Semi-ColonialismSymposium

Semi-colonialism and international legal history: the view from Bhutan

As simply a matter of history, the Kingdom of Bhutan’s experience with Occidental powers could not be more different than that of the colonial experience of Bhutan’s neighbor and closest ally, India. Bhutan proudly – and for all intents and purposes, rightly – claims that it has never been conquered or colonized, either by a European power or by an Asian neighbor. Furthermore, consequences of geography and geology make comparisons …

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DiscussionResponse

A BIT of resistance

A response to Prof. Prabhash Ranjan’s plea for embedded liberalism

In our current framework of post-truth/factual/reality politics, much of the debates surrounding crucial issues of both domestic and international governance are invariably couched in an inflexible, partisan and for most parts, in parochial terms. There is either utter disdain towards opposing perspectives or deliberate display of ignorance for plausible and varying rationalities. Nothing has been as vehemently contested as the role of the state in the economy, financial intermediation and …

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Semi-ColonialismSymposium

The a-historicity of Preah Vihear and the space for inter-disciplinarity in international law

Of International Law, Semi-colonial Thailand, and Imperial Ghosts is wide-ranging in research, nuanced in analysis, and replete with archival nuggets and food for thought. Prabhakar makes a number of important and interesting contributions in this paper. First, he convincingly substantiates a practical and theoretical distinction between colonies and semi-colonies. He goes on to demonstrate the continuing relevance of this distinction to the engagement of former colonies and semi-colonies with international law. …

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Current Developments

Alea iacta est?

Post-Achmea investment arbitration in light of recent declarations by EU-member states

Almost a year has passed since the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered its ground-breaking judgment– Achmea C-284/16 – concerning the incompatibility of EU law and a Dutch-Slovakian bilateral investment treaty (an intra-EU BIT) (for a discussion see here). While there have been divergent views on the potential scope of Achmea (here restrictively, here more broadly), arbitral tribunals have not yet upheld a jurisdictional challenge by respondent states based …

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Semi-ColonialismSymposium

The Gods and Demons of the Preah Vihear Temple

The Churning I finally visited the Temple of Preah Vihear on 22 December 2018. Strikingly, the makers of the ancient temples of Cambodia appear infatuated with a particular Indian mythic leitmotif, the churning of the milk ocean. In order to churn the milk-ocean, Vishnu, a Hindu god, turns into a turtle to allow the planting of the Mount Mandhar, the churner, on his shell. Next, Vasuki, the serpent, is wrapped …

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Current Developments

An investment arbitration avalanche after a No-Deal Brexit?

How investors could sue the UK for damages in case Britain leaves the EU without a deal

On Tuesday, January 15th, an overwhelming majority in the British House of Commons rejected the Brexit deal, i.e. the Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. With an unsuccessful confidence vote just one day later, the UK’s future in the EU is now more uncertain than ever. And the Brexit clock continues to tick as the UK is still supposed to leave the European Union on …

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Current Developments

The ICC’s ‘Evidence Problem’

The Future of International Criminal Investigations After the Gbagbo Acquittal

On 15 January, Trial Chamber I acquitted Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé of crimes against humanity. This is an important decision. Gbagbo is the first former head of state to be tried by the ICC, and his acquittal comes just months after the controversial acquittal of Jean-Pierre Bemba, a rebel-cum-vice-president of the DR Congo. Of course, as with Bemba (see here, here and here), international lawyers will disagree on …

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Current Developments

Truth or dare?

Blasphemy and the flawed logic of E.S. v. Austria

On 25 October 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) handed down its decision in the case of E.S. v. Austria. The case had begun in the fall 2009 when the anonymized applicant E.S., who is a member of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), gave two seminars about Islam. On this occasion she claimed that Muhammad, the most important prophet of Islam, was not a perfect human because …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

Multiperspectivism in and on international law

The symposium on “South and East Asian perspectives on international law” postulates that perspectives matter for the understanding, interpretation, and application of international law. I agree, but would like to caution against throwing out the baby with the bathwater by giving up the never-ending struggle for a bottom-up universalisation of the international legal discourse. Our scholarly approaches, arguments and assessments are value-loaded and connect to underlying political and theoretical preferences …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

Backlash against international law by the East?

How the concept of ‘transplantation’ helps us to better understand reception processes of international law

The symbolic metaphor of ‘Eastphalia’ that has been referred to in the opening post of this symposium, which is a wordplay around ‘Westphalia’, is very loaded in its curious terminological choice. Westphalia is a myth that plays a central role in the linear narrative on the development of international law from West to East. The analogy is not very flattering – as it is another ‘orientalist’ labeling that creates an impression …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

Are We Living in an Eastphalian Moment?

It is indisputable that economic and geopolitical power has shifted east and that the core-semi periphery-periphery symbolism, a common reference for liberal, socialist and postcolonial states, increasingly mischaracterizes the complexities of relations at play, as do voices who proclaim the beginning of the post-liberal world order. True, in liberal strongholds, nationalistically-minded authoritarianism is on the rise again, more subtle than in the first half of the 20thcentury, but with similar …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

From Liberal and Equal to Fraternal International Legal Order?

Eastphalian Synthesis of Sovereignty and Governmentality

  A quarter half of a century has passed since Francis Fukuyama declared in The End of History the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy. Contrary to this prophecy, we are witnessing the sunset of the Western liberal international legal order. It has been revealed in several critical momentathat liberal internationalism has militant, interventionist character that causes paradoxical consequences of ‘illiberal liberalism’: in order to protect what a liberal State perceives …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

A Japanese approach to international law

Territorial disputes and investment dispute settlements

In Japan, only a few academic scholars are aware of the plurality of academic scholarly perspectives. Most others do not think that their methods are different from the Western methods. This phenomenon is visible in international law study too. Such an attitude is not groundless. Japanese international law scholars are more internationalized than domestic law scholars. Most of them understand two or three European languages well, have experience of studying …

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Current Developments

Das Gespenst einer europäischen Armee

Rechtliche und politische Anmerkungen zu einer gemeinsamen europäischen Verteidigung

In den vergangenen Wochen geisterte einmal mehr die Vision einer europäischen Armee durch die Medien und Köpfe einiger europäischer Staats- und Regierungschefs. Die Idee einer stärkeren Kooperation der EU im militärischen Bereich ist nicht neu und auch heute schon in vielen Teilbereichen verwirklicht. Inwieweit sich die Pläne gemeinsamer Streitkräfte aber fernab von dem artikulierten europapolitischen Willen auch durchsetzen lassen, hängt von unterschiedlichen politischen und auch rechtlichen Faktoren ab. Ein Blick …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

The Ecological Atlas of International Law

A Chinese Reading of Three Celebrated Works in the Comparative International Law Discourse

In an effort to “identify, analyze, and explain similarities and differencesin how international law is understood, interpreted, applied, and approached by different national and international actors”, comparative international law as a research area has recently received more scholarly attention, at a time when faith in international law’s universality seems to be declining. In light of the dynamics of international power, especially the rise of China, “multiperspectivism” is expected to facilitate …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

The ‘Standard of Civilization’ in international law

Intellectual perspectives fom pre-war Japan

Any history of international law in Japan and the discourse on Japan’s semi-civilized status begin with nineteenth-century European encounters. Although there is thick literature on the ‘pre-modern’ international order in the Far East, the normative connection between Japan’s various responses to this order, on the one hand, and its engagement with the nineteenth-century European notion of the standard of civilization, on the other, is not adequately spelled out. I argue …

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Current Developments

Brexit means Brexit!?

Zum möglichen Fortgang der Brexit-Odyssee nach der Absage der Abstimmung im britischen Unterhaus

“Brexit means Brexit!“ So lautete das Mantra, das von der britischen Premierministerin im Nachklang zur Brexitentscheidung immer wieder vorgetragen wurde. Das offenbarte nicht nur eine gewisse Hilflosigkeit, sondern zeigte zugleich, dass die noch von David Cameron vornehmlich aus innenpolitischen Gründen initiierte (unverbindliche) Volksbefragung auch aus demokratietheoretischer Sicht keine Meisterleistung war: Nicht weil das Ergebnis „falsch“ gewesen wäre, sondern weil keine Ja-/Nein-Frage gestellt worden war. Formal stand zwar die Entscheidung zwischen …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

Are We Living in the “Eastphalian” Moment?

South and East Asian Perspectives on International Law

Diverging views and perspectives on international law are unavoidable. The global span of this body of law and the different geographical, cultural, religious and educational backgrounds of those who work with it contribute importantly to the understanding of its normative frameworks. Multiperspectivism and situatedness thus somewhat seem to be inherent to the DNA of international law (see e.g. here; see also this recent book). The fact that scholars from different countries and continents …

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Völkerrechtsblog

Funding Völkerrechtsblog

The German national research funding organization DFG will support Völkerrechtsblog in the coming years

Since its inception in 2014, Völkerrechtsblog has been run by dedicated volunteers who spent countless hours of their spare time, and sometimes even their own money, on the blog. As workload and expectations have been growing, the time has come to secure more sustainable funding and to further professionalize the blog. We are thus happy to announce that Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the German national research funding organization, has awarded funding to …

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Current Developments

Voting down international law?

Lessons from Switzerland for compensatory constitutionalism

There was quite some relief in Switzerland when it became clear on Sunday 25thNovember that the so called “initiative on democratic self-determination” had been rejected by the voters (the end result with 66 percent no-votes was much clearer than expected). While it is nothing new in Switzerland that popular initiatives are launched which lead to conflicts with international law (just remember the popular initiatives on the ban of minarets, on the …

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Current Developments

A power struggle or something more?

The current disqualification saga at the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

The past six months at the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, the successor organisation of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (in the following: the Mechanism), have witnessed an unprecedented series of disqualification motions in both the Mladić and Karadžić appeals trials. While the events have been largely claimed to be the result of an internal power struggle between two senior judges at …

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Current Developments

Der Globale Migrationspakt: Zwischen Mythen und Sorgen

Die österreichische Bundesregierung hat bekanntgegeben, dem globalen Migrationspakt fernzubleiben. Ein Schritt, der in Deutschland von der AfD bejubelt wurde. Woher kommt die Skepsis? Fest steht: Um den Text ranken sich zahlreiche Mythen, aber auch Missverständnisse. Grund genug, einige davon aufzuklären.

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DiscussionResponse

Why International Investment Law is not violated by the GDPR

In her recent blog article, Vishaka Ramesh claims that International Investment Law is violated by Data Protection Principles around the world, supporting her thesis in particular with rules set out by the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union (GDPR). In her opinion, principles like Data Minimization and Localization are likely to infringe generally accepted principles of investment law, such as the fair and equitable standard of treatment of …

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Current DevelopmentsResponse

Die neue WSK-Rechtsprechung des IAGMR

Impulse für Arbeitnehmerrechte in Lateinamerika

In einem früheren Post auf diesem Blog hat Lucas Sánchez eine bedeutende Rechtsprechungsänderung des Interamerikanischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte (IAGMR) im Bereich der wirtschaftlichen, sozialen und kulturellen Rechte (WSK-Rechte) thematisiert. Zentral hierfür ist die Entscheidung Lagos del Campo vs. Peru vom August 2017, in welcher der Gerichtshof erstmals die direkte Justiziabilität der WSK-Rechte unter Artikel 26 der Amerikanischen Konvention für Menschenrechte (AMRK) bestätigt. In seiner Reaktion darauf beleuchtete Pedro Villarreal die Auswirkungen dieser Rechtsprechungsänderung für das …

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DiscussionKick-off

Between Narratives and Borders

Analyzing Ethiopia’s Domestic Labor Migration to the Gulf Countries

A significant number of Ethiopians are migrating to the Gulf countries to work in the domestic labor market. In late 2013, the Ethiopian government passed a temporary ban on labor migration, which was subsequently lifted five years later in January 2018. How have these legal developments shaped the current situation, and what are the major push factors influencing Ethiopian labor migration? Two factors are particularly noteworthy: first, a state monopoly …

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Discussion

Cyber-War oder Cyber-Wahn?

Wenn Ungenauigkeiten im allgemeinen Sprachgebrauch juristische Unterscheidungen gefährden

Der Cyberkrieg ist in aller Munde. Ein aktueller, in den Medien als „Cyberkrieg“ bezeichnete Vorfall vom 4. Oktober betraf die Spionageaffäre in den Niederlanden. Vier Agenten des russischen Geheimdienstes hatten versucht, in das Computernetzwerk der Organisation für ein Chemiewaffenverbot (OPCW) einzudringen, mit dem mutmaßlichen Ziel, die Ermittlungen zum Giftgasangriff auf den abtrünnigen russischen Agenten Skripal und seine Tochter zu sabotieren. Prompt nachdem die niederländischen Behörden über die Spionageaktion informiert hatten, war …

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Current DevelopmentsResponse

The Direct Justiciability of the Right to Health at the IACtHR

What is the Added Value?

In a previous post, Lucas Sánchez discussed how the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) recently found, for the first time, a direct violation of the right to health in the case of Poblete Vilches vs. Chile. His post examines the shift from an indirect towards a direct justiciability regarding the violation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESC Rights) established in Article 26 of the American Convention on Human …

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DiscussionResponse

Im „Handelskrieg“ schweigen die Gesetze

Im gegenwärtigen Disput zwischen den USA auf der einen und einer Reihe von anderen WTO-Mitgliedern auf der anderen Seite stößt das Welthandelsrecht an seine Grenzen. Die US-Zölle verstoßen jedenfalls gegen WTO-Recht, auch eine Berufung auf mögliche Ausnahmen erscheint höchst fragwürdig. Allerdings steht auch die Reaktion der EU auf rechtlich wackeligen Beinen. Die US-Zölle und das WTO-Recht Trumps größte Sorge gilt China, forderte er doch bereits im Zuge seines Wahlkampfs die …

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Current DevelopmentsResponse

Plausibility and the ICJ

A response to Somos and Sparks

Since the ICJ’s 2001 decision in LaGrand (Germany v US), the Court’s jurisprudence on provisional measures indicated under Article 41 of its Statute has expanded dramatically. This is for two reasons—both, in my mind, connected to LaGrand. In the first place, with the Court having declared its provisional measures binding, it was incumbent upon it to ensure their requirements were clear and predictable. In the second (and in view of …

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DiscussionResponse

Taking Trump Seriously

Why international lawyers are at loss in dealing with Trump

In her recent contribution “Trump’s latest attack on international law”, Lena Riemer very accurately points out the threat to international customs and institutions posed by Trump and – currently – by his candidate for the US Supreme Court: Brett Kavanaugh. She demonstrates how Kavanaugh has repeatedly shown disrespect for humanitarian law and human rights in his career as a judge for the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of …

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Discussion

Data Protection Principles Around the World

Do They Violate International Investment Law?

There has been a recent surge in the proliferation of data protection regulations globally, the most recent example of which is the General Data Protection Regulation. Since data protection laws across the world have become increasingly extra-territorial in their reach, there is a higher propensity for foreign entities to be affected by them.

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Current Developments

The urgent, the plausible and the irreparable

The significance of lowering ICJ thresholds for provisional measures

The ICJ’s decision on Iran’s application for provisional measures in its high-profile proceedings against the United States of America for alleged violations of their 1955 Treaty of Amity was handed down on Wednesday. This tightly constrained and circumscribed stage of the proceedings, though only a precursor to the far more significant jurisdictional and merits stages—each of which has the potential to ask questions with lasting significance for international law and …

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DiscussionKick-off

Will Tariff Wars Unravel the Multilateral Trading System?

History is not unfamiliar with the rigours of tariff wars. Back in the 1930s, retaliatory tariff escalation led to the great depression, which in turn contributed to the Second World War. Leaders of the free world sought to revive the beleaguered global economy through free and fair trade. Years of negotiations aimed at increasing market access and curtailing protectionism culminated in the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The …